Administrative State

Unmasking All Night and Leaking Every Day

- July 28th, 2017
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As a veteran of the KISS Army, I recall (albeit vaguely) the great mystery about what the makeup caked quartet actually looked like in what for Rock stars passes for real life. There was singer and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley (a.k.a. Starchild); singer bassist Gene Simmons (a.k.a. Demon); lead guitarist Ace Frehley (a.k.a. Spaceman); and drummer Peter Criss (a.k.a. Catman). Then, their eighth studio album—the last produced by this original lineup (until 1996 anyway)—was announced: KISS “Unmasked”! Finally, the mystery of what they looked like would be solved!

Or not.

Despite the album’s title, no unmasking occurred; consequently, the ranks of the KISS Army swelled with the mixed emotions of disappointment and relief—much the same as fans felt toward the band’s record, which Stanley called “a pretty crappy album. It’s wimpy.” Listeners were disappointed with the disc, and relieved when it was over. Regardless, the KISS Army was delighted that, by not unmasking themselves, KISS’s original show would go on!

Until 1983, anyway, when lineup shakeups led to a reconstituted Kiss sandblasting off their stage personas and appearing as themselves at an MTV press conference for their latest contribution to Western Civilization, the album “Lick It Up.”

It was a startling development for the KISS Army; and a difficult decision for KISS. Not only did the band risk alienating fans by rebranding with reality, they also would lose some of the precious anonymity their alter egos afforded.

Yet to this day KISS still packs concert venues with fans who also “wanna rock and roll all night and party every day,” ultimately, for the band this unmasking was the right decision.

And it was their decision.

Good thing they decided to unmask themselves prior to the Obama Administration, which apparently would have been more than happy to do it for them whether the band liked it or not.

To wit:

Fulfilling his and the House Intelligence Committee’s oversight responsibilities, on July 27 Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) informed Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats that illegal leaks of classified information and allegations based upon them—whether true or false—by “current and former administration officials” have “undermined our political processes and emboldened and aided our adversaries.”

Further, Nunes noted these criminal leaks “damage our national security and are an affront to the brave men and women who serve in silence within the Intelligence Community.” And, he ominously added, such criminal leaks imperil not just the collection of information but, most importantly, the lives of intelligence sources.

Still conducting its review, the intelligence committee has already accumulated disturbing evidence that “current and former administration officials had easy access to U.S. person information, and it is possible that these officials used this information to achieve partisan political purposes including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.” (Emphasis mine.)

Bluntly, Nunes is saying his committee has evidence the Obama Administration abused its power to surveil and unmask American citizens as a step in its knowing, willful, and deliberate criminal leaking of classified information to attain political aims.

To stop this unconstitutional and unconscionable abuse of the American people’s unalienable rights, stanch the flood of criminal leaks, and commence restoring and strengthening our national security, Nunes and his committee are rightly following the leaks back to the very source of the classified information.

And what they found so far would make even G. Gordon Liddy soil himself.

The Committee has found that senior government officials offered remarkably few individualized justifications for access to this U.S. person information. For example, this Committee has learned that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds [emphasis theirs] of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration. Of those requests, only one offered a justification that was not boilerplate and articulated why that specific official required the U.S. person information for the performance of his or her official duties.

So much for the Susan Rice “it was routine in the course of my duties” defense.

Oh, and come to think of it, wasn’t that final year of the Obama Administration an election year?

The Committee also understands that Obama-era officials sought the identities of Trump transition officials within intelligence reports. However, there was no meaningful explanation offered by these officials as to why they needed or how they would use this U.S. person information, and thus the Committee is left with the impression that these officials may have used this information for improper purposes, including the possibility of leaking…some of the requests for unminimized U.S. person information were followed by anonymous leaks of those names to the media.

Quite a coincidence, no?

No. Again, Nunes:

Although the committee has yet to complete its review, we have identified a significant issue that will require changes to federal law. Specifically, we have found that the Intelligence Community’s U.S. person unmasking policies are inadequate to prevent abuse, such as political spying.

And there you have it. Your lives, liberty, and property and less safe because the Obama Administration cared more about using the security apparatus of the state to play politics than to protect America.

Now, in a time when America faces increasing threats from increasingly belligerent regimes from Beijing to Tehran and a terrorist threat knowing no borders or bounds, our assiduously devised balance between liberty and security must be revisited, revised and—God willing—gotten right by Nunes, his committee, congressional peers and the Trump Administration.

Gee, thanks Obama. Still, maybe you can help us here stateside by parceling out a few pearls of wisdom on the subject during your next multi-million dollar overseas speech? Better yet, you can tell us precisely what your administration’s national security officials—and other officials, apparently—were doing to American citizens. Of course, protecting America might lack the requisite salience to a crowd of globetrotting fops paying through the nose for a teachable moment on saving the planet from weather patterns….

Regardless, thus must we wrestle amidst the ruins with the Obama Administration’s abuses. While, at present the full extent of said abuses and illegal leaks remains unfathomed; and the above official in question remains unmasked—a courtesy and legality said individual did not accord other American citizens, nevertheless, when the ease with which the official acquired what is supposed to be closely guarded U.S. person information is assessed in conjunction with other evidence (such as the FISA court’s unclassified findings of the past administration’s failure to adequately comply with safeguards in place to protect Americans’ privacy), it is increasingly evident the Obama Administration abused its national security powers to “unmask all night and leak every day.”

Of course, that tune isn’t being aired by the media elite that digs the discordant notes of the Russia-gate canard, which was the creation of the very Obama Administration abuses they still being studiously ignore. Their journalistic abnegation is understandable, if inexcusable: not only did their coverage of President Obama twist their “objective” media outlets into 21st century versions of Tiger Beat; more to the point, the media elite is complicit in the leaks.

Since it’s hard to burnish one’s brand behind bars, it will be a lonely slog uphill for Republicans and Democrats trying to repair the damage to America’s Intelligence Community. But, again, succeed they must; lest, for our national security, the Obama Administration’s criminal leaks and abusive unmaskings prove the kiss of death.

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